I can’t believe my adventure abroad in New Zealand is actually over. After about 20 hours of traveling, I am now back at my parents' house in Washington. The idea of being home is nice, seeing my parents and my animals and eating foods that I’ve missed, but at the same time, actually being here is a little hard. I don’t really have much to do here and all my friends are back at school, so these past couple days I’ve had a lot of down time which makes me miss New Zealand that much more. I feel like I’m in some kind of limbo at the moment, not in New Zealand traveling around but also not back at Linfield working and staying busy on campus. I know everybody says that reverse culture shock is often times greater than culture shock going to a new country. I’ve only been here a few days but I’m anticipating this huge shock to hit me any moment and also hoping it never will. Or maybe I’m already experiencing some forms of it and I don’t even know. In any case, all I know is that I need to get myself busy again and get a job to earn back all the money I spent while traveling.
Speaking of traveling, last post I mentioned traveling with my sister for the last couple weeks that I was in NZ. She flew into Auckland where we met up and rented a camper van to take on our travels up north. We spent eight days driving around the windy roads of the Northland camping wherever we were allowed to. We occupied ourselves by taking lots of hikes to see beautiful views of green luscious farmland and bright blue bays. We worked on our tan at the many beautiful beaches along both the east and west coast of the Northland peninsula. The trip was a wonderful way to take my mind off the idea that I’d be leaving soon and really just enjoy all that this country has to offer. But unfortunately, the road trip had to end sometime and the reality of packing and saying goodbyes set in.
My sister and I headed back to Hamilton to pack up my room. A lot of my American friends were leaving too, so they were the first tearful goodbyes for me. Then I needed to move all my stuff from my dorm room to my friend’s flat for the weekend, since I had to check out of the halls on the second and my flight out wasn’t until the fourth. My last weekend in Hamilton was quite fun. I had a great picnic lunch with a group of my friends in the beautiful Hamilton Gardens. I also enjoyed a day hike up the Pinnacles trail with another group of friends. These were great last memories with these people that have truly become my family. They have taken care of me and made me feel so incredibly welcome in Hamilton and in their homes.
After my friend Anita dropped my sister and me off at the bus station, it finally hit me that I was leaving. I’d been saying all these goodbyes that last week, but it wasn’t until I was sitting on that bus looking out the window at the familiar farmland scenery that characterizes NZ so well, that I realized it’d be the last time in a very long time that I would see those views and those lovely people again. So yes, leaving NZ was hard. But as I told all my friends, we have this great thing called the internet that makes staying in touch quite easy. Although I may not see them in person for a long time, if ever, I will see them on Facebook, and that will have to do. But I have decided that sometime in my future I will return to NZ because it is now a part of me. It is my second home.